Maintaining the Fleet

Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRCWP) recently inducted its first EA-18G Growler aircraft at NIPPI Corporation’s repair facility in Yamato, Japan.

The aircraft, which is flown by Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 Shadowhawks, is the first EA-18G inducted for scheduled depot-level maintenance outside the United States, a first for NIPPI and FRCWP, said Ide Takashi, assistant manager of the U.S. Government Program Aircraft Maintenance Division.

“By having a depot level repair facility so close to the base, we’re able to save both time and money by not having to take the planes back stateside for repairs,” said Lt. Cmdr. Terence Mejos, FRCWP Production Officer. “These types of contracts require a lot of work, and it’s good to see all that work now bearing fruit.”

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There are three levels of aviation maintenance: O-level where small fixes and repairs can be made to the aircraft by squadron personnel, intermediate maintenance which includes streamlined parts like engines and landing gear, and depot level maintenance which repairs whole systems.

Because of its proximity to Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi NIPPI has been the primary provider of depot level maintenance for the U.S. Navy in Japan since the 1950’s.

Though this is the first time the EA-18G has undergone scheduled depot-level maintenance in Japan, it is not new to the Fleet. The Growler was first tested in 2004, flying first in 2006 with five squadrons being declared ready and fit for flight in 2010.

The Shadowhawks were the first operational EA-18G Growler squadron to be rotated outside of the United States to 7th Fleet.

The Growler is based on the Fighter Attack (F/A) 18 airframe to help reduce cost of parts and labor for upcoming models, said Integrated Maintenance Concept Manager Scott Davis. This means that our Sailors will have more planes to fly and less down time while the planes are being overhauled.

“In 2013 it took roughly 200 days for some older model aircraft to be turned over to NIPPI and returned to the squadron, however, for the EA-18G it’s expected to take less than 45 days,” said Davis.  “This reduction in time has huge benefits for both the efficiency of the squadron and money saved for the Navy.”

Because of this type of interoperability, Takashi feels the U.S. and Japanese governments are able to strengthen ties through their work in aviation maintenance.

“Working on these aircraft is a great chance for us to be able to interact with our American counterparts,” said Takashi. “It truly has been a privilege to work alongside the American military, and it is something I will always be proud of having the chance to do here at NIPPI.”

Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Jan 30, 2014